A Traveling Homeland: The Babylonian Talmud as Diaspora by Daniel Boyarin

By Daniel Boyarin

A be aware conventionally imbued with depression meanings, "diaspora" has been used variously to explain the cataclysmic historic occasion of displacement, the following geographical scattering of peoples, or the stipulations of alienation in a foreign country and longing for an ancestral domestic. yet as Daniel Boyarin writes, diaspora could be extra constructively construed as a kind of cultural hybridity or a style of research. In A touring Homeland, he makes the case shared place of birth or prior and nerve-racking dissociation will not be worthwhile stipulations for diaspora and that Jews hold their fatherland with them in diaspora, within the kind of textual, interpretive groups equipped round talmudic study.

For Boyarin, the Babylonian Talmud is a diasporist manifesto, a textual content that produces and defines the practices that represent Jewish diasporic id. Boyarin examines the methods the Babylonian Talmud imagines its personal neighborhood and experience of place of origin, and he indicates how talmudic commentaries from the medieval and early sleek classes additionally produce a doubled cultural id. He hyperlinks the continuing productiveness of this bifocal cultural imaginative and prescient to the character of the publication: because the actual textual content moved among varied instances and areas, the tools of its examine built via touch with surrounding cultures. eventually, A touring Homeland envisions talmudic research because the heart of a shared Jewish id and a particular characteristic of the Jewish diaspora that defines it as a specific thing except different cultural migrations.

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Additional info for A Traveling Homeland: The Babylonian Talmud as Diaspora

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As discussions of diasporas began to branch out to include other cases, they remained oriented, at least initially, to this conceptual homeland—to the Jewish case and the other “classical” diasporas, Armenian and Greek. When historian George Shepperson introduced the notion of the African diaspora, for example, he did so by expressly engaging the Jewish experience (Shepperson 1966; Alpers 2001; Edwards 2001). The Palestinian diaspora, too, has been construed as a “catastrophic” diaspora—or in Cohen’s (1997) term, a “victim diaspora”—on the model of the Jewish case.

Much more so than Palestinian rabbinic compilations, the Bavli is encyclopedic in character, meaning that it contains more varieties of rabbinic literature than roughly contemporary Palestinian compilations. The Bavli, for example, is much richer in nonlegal scriptural commentary (aggadic midrash) than is the Yerushalmi, which is more narrowly focused on law and Mishnah commentary. 37 We have, then, two Talmuds very closely related but also in competition with each other. Needless to say, the Palestinian Sages did not willingly accept the decentering of the Holy Land.

53 As Martin Baumann, along with others, has remarked: The semantic broadening of “diaspora,” both in terms of relating it to any dispersed group of people and to conceptualize a certain type of consciousness, have made “diaspora” one of the most fashionable terms in academic discourse of late 20th century. Authors and writers use the once restricted notion in an arbitrary, unspecified, fairly free way. Apparently, an often plainly metaphorical application of “diaspora” is prevalent, encompassing under the very term a wide range of phenomena considered appropriate.

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